A few years ago, I watched a powerful documentary entitled America the Beautiful. In it, filmmaker Darryl Roberts explores America’s obsession with physical beauty–to the point where even 8-year-old girls are succumbing to bulimia. But the thing I found most intriguing about the film was Roberts’ own confession of how cultural standards of beauty affected him as a young man: He broke up with a charming, intelligent, beautiful woman whom he loved very much just because she didn’t look like the models he saw in magazines. Only years later–after his dynamite lady had married someone else–did Roberts realize he was chasing an impossible fantasy.
About three years ago, I started following the blog of a woman in Colorado. She and her husband had been married for about 13 years, and their sex life was starting to feel a little stale. They decided to try an open marriage to spice things up. (She started the blog to document the experience.) Within six months, her husband left her for a serious relationship with another woman, throwing the lives of their 3 school-age boys into turmoil. Betrayed and desperate for some genuine affection, the woman sought it in the casual hookups she made during her open marriage. This only wounded her further, as the men expected only one thing from their relationship: sex.
Every day, our culture bombards us with a variety of messages:
– If you’ll just get thin, you’ll be happy.
– If you can just find the right partner (in bed), you’ll be fulfilled.
– If you buy this new cell phone, you’ll be popular.
– If you drink our beer/wear our shirt/use our deodorant, women will like you.
– If you’ll just release your inhibitions, you can do what you want with no guilt or consequences.
– If you’ll just stop trying to please the invisible man in the sky, you’ll be more content.
But are these messages true?
I’d argue, rather strongly, that they are not. We’ve been listening to these messages for the past 60 years or so, and what have we gotten? Are we happier, healthier and more fulfilled? Let’s see:
– Fifty percent of marriages are ending in divorce.
– One-third of American children are being raised by single mothers–double the rate from 50 years ago.
– Young people age 15-24 account for half of all new STD infections (reported by the CDC this year).
– Between 50 and 70 percent of girls see themselves as overweight, even when they’re not.
– The United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet consumes two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs.
– Approximately 7.4% of the U.S. population meets the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.
– One in 5 Americans takes some form of anti-depressant.
Every time I read articles about how an affair can save a marriage or hear the story of a young teen who contracted HIV from his very first sexual experience, I get angry. Because our culture is lying to us about what is healthy, desirable, and good, and too many people are buying the bull and ending up physically and emotionally sick and scarred. I can’t tell you how many so-called Christian parents I’ve heard say they intend to buy their teens contraception and give tacit approval to their sexual activity. Hello! Half of all new STD infections?? Wake up!
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
There are blogs out there that claim young people can experiment safely with drugs. Half the time, these writers admit that they routinely operate a vehicle while high. Wake up!
Our culture encourages addiction.
Our culture promotes disease.
Our culture destroys intimacy.
Our culture instills apathy.
Our culture feeds on gossip and slander.
Our culture stirs up dissension and dissatisfaction.
Our culture condones torture and violence.
When one-third of Christians think it’s appropriate to watch sexually explicit movies, there’s a problem with our culture.
When Christians believe that waiting until marriage to have sex is outdated and unrealistic, there’s a problem with our culture.
When Christians try to justify the indefinite detention and torture of our government’s political prisoners, there’s a problem with our culture.
When Christian parents know more about their smart phones than they do about their own children, there’s a problem with our culture.
When Christians think it’s acceptable to publicly deride and spread false information about our political and spiritual leaders, there’s a problem with our culture.
When Christians spend $23 million to build a state-of-the-art sanctuary in Texas but won’t give $5,000 to help the poor, there’s a (read: spiritual) problem with our culture.
The problem is, we’ve spent too much time trying to get Christ’s laws into our legislation, but not the Spirit of Christ into our hearts and minds.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone (2 Timothy 3:1-9).